South China Morning Post – Zhou Xi & Wendy Wu / Beijing likely to cancel trade war talks after Donald Trump ups the ante with tariffs on US$200 billion of goods
- After US President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products, China is likely to cancel its tentative plans to send Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser to Washington, according to a Chinese government source.
- Trump’s decision to impose fresh 10 per cent tariffs, starting from next Monday, before increasing them to 25 per cent on January 1, marked a significant escalation of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
- The two sides have already imposed two previous rounds of 25 per cent tariffs on shipments worth US$50 billion a year.
- Trump has threatened that if China retaliates to the latest measures, as it has promised to do, then the US will impose further tariffs on another US$267 billion worth of Chinese products – effectively covering almost all Chinese exports to the US.
The New York Times – Andrew Higgins & Rick Gladstone / Russia and Turkey announce demilitarized zone in last rebel-held part of Syria
- Russia’s defense minister said on Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would refrain from launching an offensive on Idlib Province, the last major rebel stronghold, after the presidents of Russia and Turkey agreed to establish a “demilitarized zone” there by October 15.
- Details of the agreement were not explained, and it was not immediately clear whether the Syrian government was willing to go along with their plan. But the statements by President Erdogan and President Putin raised hopes that Assad would step back.
- In delaying an assault on Idlib, Russia could be looking ahead, to a time when it wants to present Assad to the world as the war’s winner who should be supported as he rebuilds the country. Such an argument might be less persuasive after a bloody campaign to subdue Idlib.
- Putin added that all heavy weapons and “radical militants” must “be withdrawn” from the demilitarized area by October 10. By establishing this deadline, Russia may be seeking to demonstrate to the United Nations and others that the rebels do not want a peaceful settlement and must therefore be removed by force, as Syria has wanted to do all along.
Financial Times – Anne-Marie Slaughter / Transform UN entities from hierarchies into hubs
- If the post-1945 world order is destined to decay, what will replace it? Trump and a host of like-minded leaders have an answer: tear it down and return to a world of unfettered national sovereignty. Holding to the status quo in the face of this challenge is not the answer.
- The solution is to focus more on people than on states, by making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality. Governments alone cannot achieve them, but networks, coalitions and alliances of governmental and global actors can.
- The UN can help, but only by transforming its conception and organization of itself. From the secretary-general down, through all its departments, agencies and permanent representatives, UN entities must transform themselves from hierarchies into hubs.
- We must stop thinking of the UN as a global power centre, full of people who can order others to take action and solve problems. The power of the UN comes from the fact that its many constituent parts have the legitimacy and centrality to bring vast webs of global actors together, move them towards common goals and measure their progress.
Foreign Policy – Stephen M. Walt / Does it matter that Trump is a liar?
- According to the Washington Post, as of August 1, Trump had made more than 4,000 false or misleading claims since becoming president, an average of roughly 7.6 per day.
- But does this compulsive lying really undermine Trump’s ability to conduct foreign policy? According to John Mearsheimer, trust is scarce in foreign policy anyway, and therefore most leaders will check up on what a foreign counterpart is telling them before they accept and act upon it.
- The bottom line is that leaders have little incentive to lie when dealing with foreign powers. However, they have a big incentive to lie when dealing with their own publics—if only to stay popular—and they are much more likely to get away with it, especially when the subject is foreign policy.
- All in all, Trump’s lies do matter. First, they Americans look dumber in the eyes of the rest of the world, and lose the moral high ground. Second, bad behavior (to include lying) is no longer deterred by the fear of public shame and subsequent discredit. Lastly, other countries may end up resenting his lies, even if all states tend to view one another’s pledges with a certain skepticism anyway.
Brookings / Trans-Atlantic scorecard – September 2018
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.